I’m in love with Australia. We’ve been here for a little over one month and yes, I feel very badly about being off the grid and failing to launch the promised travel blog. But, as my friend Stacy pointed out: “Blog/Smog. You’ve been busy DOING things.” And that is true. I’ve been eating, sweating, and seeking my brains out. I just haven’t had time to get organized and write about it (although I’ve taken thousands of pictures!).
Here is a quick recap:
Sydney: We headed out to Sydney, Australia on the 26th of January (which just happened to be Australia Day). I expected the flight to be awful and exhausting, but it really wasn’t. By mid-day, we were sitting at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, enjoying a beautiful view of the Harbor while sucking down oysters and drinking cold Semillon . We spent an action-packed week in Sydney, checking off the Sydney 101 Tourist items. My favorite spots? The Royal Botanic Garden, Bondi Beach, the Sydney Harbor bridge, the weekend markets at The Rocks and taking advantage of the many pools and outdoor activities.
I have many lasting impressions of Sydney but the most striking thing about the city for me was the outdoor culture. I think it might be impossible (or possibly even illegal) to be a couch potato in Sydney: Kite-boarding, surfing, paddle-boarding, cycling, yoga, running, swimming, triathlon, tennis, beach volleyball….take your pick. There is simply no good reason to be indoors if you are not working or sleeping (and if I lived in Sydney, I’d find a way to work outdoors). It is a city where people love eating and sweating equally (I’m not sure about seeking; I wasn’t there long enough) and for that reason alone, I could easily make it my home.
The Hunter Valley: Within a week of arriving in Oz, we headed out for our first winery crawl in the idyllic Hunter Valley, where we tasted some fabulous wine, sampled far more of the gourmet chefs than we should have and did very little sweating (hey, I was exhausted from the whole Sydney thing anyway; I needed a break). I especially enjoyed learning more about the Hunter Valley’s signature wines, Shiraz, Verdhelo, and Semillon. Added bonus: I saw my first Roo up close and personal while in The Hunter Valley. I’ll be honest, these animals frighten me (especially the males, which can reach 7 feet tall).
Canberra: Canberra is Australia’s capitol city and in many ways reminds me of Washington, D.C. We spent a delightful 10 days in Canberra visiting friends, taking advantage of the wonderful cycling around Lake Burley Griffin, the wineries, and a special trip to The Australian Institute of Sport. Two highlights of our trip to Canberra: Accompanying our friends’ Frank and Angela to their son’s Cricket game and enjoying a fabulous dinner cooked by our friends Margaret and John that featured my new favorite seafood, Moreton Bay Bugs (not actually a bug, more like a small lobster).
The Great Ocean Road: After a quick stopover in Melbourne to see my daughter (now working in Melbourne), we headed out to The Great Ocean Road for some cycling. Along the way, we stopped at Werribee Mansion to see the State Rose Gardens. The cycling along the Great Ocean Road is everything I could have hoped for. We stayed in the little town of Lorne and I cycled from there towards Apollo Bay. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful stretch of road. This area is one of the most picturesque along the road, with unobstructed views for the cyclist. It is probably also one of the safer areas to cycle alone alone, although blind curves with little or no shoulder are simply a fact of life in this are and all along the road (so beware). I hope to come back to the Lorne area so that I can cover more miles on the road (maybe the Otway ride on the 22nd).
Melbourne: We are now back in Melbourne, enjoying what is perhaps the city’s busiest month. A few of the events on offer in March: White Night, Ironman Melbourne, The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, The Moomba Festival, The Festival of the Sea (which includes a Mussel party at South Melbourne Market!), and much more. There is so much to see and do in Melbourne in March, I’m not sure how we will fit it all in.
We rented a tiny little place on St. Kilda Beach (in South Melbourne) and I am loving life by the sea, which is literally just outside my front door! I’ve also begun making good on a promise I made to myself some years back: I’m attempting to learn the sport of Kite-boarding. Gulp.
Whew! So that’s what I’ve been up to. We are, in general, sticking to our 2014 Draft Itinerary. More soon on our activities in Oz and the next stop on the journey….SHARE THIS ARTICLE